Filed under: Holidays

Giving Wisely and Joyfully

Leave a Comment December 27, 2013

It’s that time of the year! There is just a couple of days remaining in the year to make your charitable donation. The stock market’s been good to many of you this year – so celebrate and give. As they say, “Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.”

This year you have so many great choices among organizations to give to. How do you choose?

Here’s a checklist –

1. What issues do you care about? You can make a difference on a wide array of issues. There are many ways in which you can give and make an impact. Your donations could…

  • Provide dental care in communities where no doctors took children under 7 or accepted Medicare: PRASAD
  • Build camp, latrines, provide food and water for families fleeing violence in the Central Condo Republic: International Rescue Committee
  • Bridge the gap between science and policy, provide interesting briefings to Congress, open to the public, about complex energy and environmental issues: Environmental and Energy Study Institute
  • Provide counseling, homework and SAT help: A Place Called Home
  • Match volunteers with people with HIV/AIDS to ensure that men and women do not have to face their illnesses alone: Shanti Project
  • Pay for fees for kids’ activities such as tutoring, summer camp, ballet lessons or ice hockey lessons while their parents are deployed overseas: Our Military Kids.
  • Provide creative writing classes at community libraries for the low-income: LOFT 
  • Rescue and rehabilitate ill and injured seals and sea lions: Marine Mammal Center
  • Help low-income people get medical care that they can afford: Access Partnership

These are just a few examples from the GreatNonprofits 2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit List.

2. Go with your heart – are you interested in having a local impact or national? National organizations tend to have more impact in raising awareness and policy-making, and therefore can have broader impacts. The advantage of local giving is that you can get more involved with an organization in addition to donating. There are thousands of nonprofits in each major city providing services ranging from meals for the elderly to legal aid for the low-income. Find your city’s list of nonprofits: AtlantaAustinBoston, ChicagoCleveland,Columbus, DallasDenverHoustonHonoluluNew YorkPittsburghPhiladelphiaPortland,San DiegoSan FranciscoSan JoseSeattleWashington DC and more.

3. Go visit the nonprofit and experience it for yourself. Many nonprofits have community outreach events – and you can drop by and talk to them at their table at the community fair, or at their open house. Walk around and see if you can meet some of the people they serve – talk to them and get a sense of what services they value and their experience with the organization. Sign up to volunteer and see first hand the work of the nonprofit. By volunteering, you will meet other volunteers, even some board members or clients and get to witness their program first-hand.

Just remember, you have just a couple of more days to make your 2013 tax-deductible donation count. Giving unleashes endorphins – so give to a worthy cause, and enjoy the true season of giving!


This Giving Season, Find a Worthy Charity with Online Reviews

Leave a Comment December 12, 2013


Redwood Shores, Calif. - GreatNonprofits, the largest nonprofit review site (think Yelp for nonprofits), lets people quickly find charities doing the most good, helping them donate wisely in this season of giving. Donors can find worthy nonprofit organizations based on nearly 200,000 real-life stories of impact, written by volunteers, donors and beneficiaries. (more…)

Over $200k Awarded From Crowdrise Holiday Challenge

Leave a Comment November 20, 2013

By Craig Newmark: contributing writer and founder of Craigslist.

Hey, I’ve teamed up with CrowdRise and the Huffington Post to host a Holiday Challenge over on CrowdRise to help nonprofits raise a lot of money this season.

As they say – here’s how it’s going down.

The Holiday Challenge will work similar to the #VetsChallenge that I sponsored over the summer, but this time, any charity is able to sign up. Over $200,000 will be given to nonprofits throughout the challenge. Last year over $1,000,000.00 was raised for charities.

Give Hope & Joy this Holiday Season!

Leave a Comment November 20, 2013

By contributing writer Amanda Howard, and Brad Jamison, contributing writer and founder of Good Citizen

Christmas time is often called “the most wonderful time of the year” and I couldn’t agree more. I LOVE Christmas – the traditions, time with family and friends, gift giving, cooking, eating, singing holiday favorites, church on Christmas Eve and more.

Now, there is another side of this time of year that has gotten a bit out of control – the commercial side. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to the commercial side of the holidays. I love giving gifts to those I love – I get a thrill out of finding just the right thing, big or small, and presenting it to them. But, I do think it has gone too far, as the hope and joy seem to have been replaced by greed and selfishness.


Cheers to Charity: Helping Around the Holidays

Comment (1) November 19, 2013

Pine trees.  Gilded glass ornaments.  Big gold boxes wrapped with shiny red ribbons.  The image of the holidays we have is one of people cozying up next to the fireplace stockings in their knitted reindeer sweaters with a plate of gingerbread cookies in one hand and a present in the other.

For most of us, our biggest worry is whether to buy the green scarf or the blue scarf for our mother-in-law, or which Lego kit was the one our son wanted.  Yet for many others, presents are the last thing on their minds this holiday season – they’re just thinking about how to last the winter months with enough food and warm clothing.


International Travel and Do-Good Opportunities

Leave a Comment August 23, 2013

You can also read this article here on LinkedIn!

Leave behind more from this summer than bad tan lines and stale cotton candy. Have an adventure and make a difference. Check out some great travel volunteer opportunities as recommended by the community at You can experience different cultures, the diverse beauty of this world – and help a child to read, build a bridge, or contribute to rainforest research.


Create wildlife or flora guides, monitor wildlife and forest growth, teach English, map uncharted areas of the rainforest

You’re walking through the Amazonian rainforest just as sunlight is starting to spill through the tips of the canopy leaves; a crimson-tailed hummingbird flits through the air and a capuchin monkey scrambles between tree branches. Working with Amazon Conservation Association, which is dedicated to preserving the biological diversity of the Amazon Basin, you can explore Amazonian nature as a conservationist striving to ensure that the beauty of these rainforests lasts for generations to come. There’s a lot you can do to preserve these forests – you can create wildlife and flora photoguides and artwork to document research, for instance.

Said one volunteer of his trip down the Peruvian Andes to visit ACA’s research facilities and meet the indigenous community, “The entire experience was profound. ACA’s research stations were filled with students studying various aspects of the cloud forest and rain forest….The whole atmosphere was exciting and filled with creativity….The issues are huge but the organization has talented, hardworking, committed people who have a track record of achieving results.”

Take a look at more ways to volunteer with ACA in the Peruvian rainforests.


Teach English, help the disabled, volunteer at daycares, work in hospitals helping HIV/AID patients

Salvador, Brazil is a city that is impossible to forget; the pastel colonial architecture of its historic center and its Afro-Brazilian music. You can savor those experiences and volunteer to improve education and healthcare with Cross-Cultural Solutions. You can teach English, work in a daycare or a hospital.

“Being a volunteer with Cross Cultural Solutions is one of the best things I have ever done with my life,” said one volunteer. “I spent ten weeks in Salvador, Brazil from October through December 2011. During my time in Brazil, I was able to assist in a day care for a few weeks and work with underprivileged children. I also taught English at two different schools to people who only spoke Portuguese….The beach, the people, volunteering, and CCS…It is a great combination and a very rewarding experience.”

Discover what you can do with CCS to impact someone’s life across the world.

Costa Rica

Build bridges, clean water systems, and recycling stations; engage in reforestation and organic agricultural work

Costa Rica’s craggy volcanoes, picturesque beaches, and incredible flora and fauna biodiversity make for an overwhelmingly colorful and unique experience for travellers. It’s the perfect place to take one of Globe Aware‘s Volunteer Vacations – soak up the sun and culture while helping to build infrastructure. By day, you can build suspension bridges, practice organic farming, and construct recycling stations; by night, meet the locals, learn about traditional sugar cane processing, and enjoy the delicious food.

“…I just returned from building a pedestrian bridge in the middle of the rainforest in Costa Rica with them this June, and I have to say, out of all my life experiences, truly none have ever come close to these,” said a past volunteer.

Learn more about Globe Aware’s opportunities for change in Costa Rica and other destinations for volunteer travel.


Teach English and art, assist in pediatric and medical care

Sela is an 8-year-old boy with a gap-toothed, wide-mouthed grin, ears that stick out, and an impish look in his eyes. He looks just like any other excited elementary school kid – except that he gets his education, food and healthcare from the Cambodian Children’s Fund. You can volunteer to help children like him this summer by working in the school, bakery, or health clinic.

Said one volunteer who visited CCF facilities, “I had the opportunity to do some volunteer work for CCF in Phnom Penh this past year and experience first-hand what Scott and his team are doing. It was a truly amazing experience that left a huge impression on me….CCF is transforming an entire community and helping them lift themselves out of poverty by addressing the major problems that these people face including schooling for children, health care, vocational training, substance abuse and domestic violence. None of this would be possible without CCF.”

Find out how to get involved with Cambodian Children’s Fund.


Build stoves, work in nurseries and plant trees

Guatemala is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in Central America; you can wander through the Mayan ruins, climb a volcano, or explore the open-air markets. You can also travel with other volunteers of the Highland Support Project this summer to rebuild depleted forests and limit harmful smoke exposure within indigenous Mayan communities. You’ll build fuel-efficient stoves to replace open-pit fires in poorly ventilated homes, engage in reforestation, or work in Guatemalan schools presenting affordable art programs to help these communities achieve social sustainability.

“What I love about HSP is its commitment to collaborative/cooperative work in the villages versus what some folks call “hit and run” (drop in with supplies, then not show up again for another month or 6 months or longer). Members of the communities are active partners in all of the work that HSP supports. Through HSP I have experienced the true meaning of empowerment in its most positive way,” said a past volunteer.

Explore the ways that you can make a difference this summer in Guatemala.


Build water and sanitation systems, construct stoves, work with women’s activist groups

Uganda’s beautiful national parks and boundless savanna are the perfect destination for adventurous travelers with a thirst for exploring Africa’s rugged terrain and endlessly diverse wildlife. This summer, go on safaris and raft on the Nile while helping the Foundation for Sustainable Development improve water and food sanitation in Uganda’s Masaka district. Help construct rainwater collection tanks, educate communities about the importance of hygiene, and build pollution-minimizing stoves.

“The entire FSD team in Uganda was incredibly helpful and my host family was accommodating at all times,” said one volunteer. “The team made our experience truly hands on and exposed us the daily work that the Uganda people engaged in and we worked on projects that were making a real impact in the community….Overall it was a wonderful experience that broadened my horizons and cultivated my interests in global sustainable development.”

Explore the other destinations you can travel to and volunteer services you can provide with the Foundation for Sustainable Development.

Did I miss your favorite volunteer travel experience? Share your inspirational story – and help others find those same opportunities!

For 50+ more summer favorites from Influencers, check out the full Influencer Summer Guide here.

Follow Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits founder and CEO, on LinkedIn!

July 4th – Who Protects American History, Freedom and Landscapes?

Comment (1) July 2, 2013

“America is another word for opportunity.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This Independence Day, take the opportunity to thank those who dedicate themselves to the preservation of our nations history, freedom, and the American spirit.

From our soldiers and their families, to our local museums, each and every day there are individuals who serve our country. You can see them in your community. Check out the list of nonprofits who preserve America’s history and serve it’s citizens. There are lots of great organizations out there to give your hats off to this July 4th – which ones have we missed? Add your favorites below! Or better yet, write a review about them so that everyone will see it when they search.

1. National Parks Conservation Association, Washington, DC

Mission: To protect and enhance America’s National Park System for current and future generations.

“I cannot imagine my life without the Parks that I have been fortunate enough to visit in my 65 years. Seeing all the natural beauty preserved by our forefathers is the basis of my spirituality & my sense of purpose. I believe saving these lands may be one of our greatest accomplishments so far.”

2. National Military Family Association, Alexandria, VA

NMFA is the only national charity educating, informing and representing the evolving needs of families of all the military services.

“The National Military Family Association is a wonderful organization that seems to have a very positive impact in the military community. I feel good knowing my donation is being used in so many great ways!”

3. National Relief Charities, Sherman, TX

Mission: To help Native American people improve the quality of their lives by providing opportunities for them to bring about positive changes in their communities.

“Our native friends greatly appreciate what we do with the NRC – the food boxes and food bags we give out on a regular basis truly helped them in their daily needs.”

4. National Women’s History Museum, Alexandria, VA

This educational institution is dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and celebrating the diverse historic contributions of women, and integrating this rich heritage fully into our nation’s history.

“The National Women’s History Museum has opened not only my eyes to the hundreds of thousands of women who have made our Nation great through their contributions, large and small, and their accomplishments in every field of endeavor but also those of girls, boys, tenagers, college students and the general public…women and men alike.”

5. The Project on Government Oversight, Washington, DC

Through investigations, POGO aims to promote good government reforms and a more effective, accountable, open and ethical federal government.

“POGO makes exhaustive efforts to research and monitor government programs, disseminate their findings to the public, and serve the public as advocates.”

6. The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, Washington, DC

Through chapters all across the country, ACS educates lawyers, law students, decision makers and the public about the Constitution and its importance for the lives of real people.

“Taking seriously the idea that an educated public is essential to a well-functioning democracy, the ACS provides educational and support networks to help disseminate an historically honest interpretation of the Constitution and its role as America’s founding document.”

7. Sergeant York Patriotic Foundation, Cookeville, TN

SYPF serves to continue historical research, provide education opportunities and increase sustainable heritage tourism to Sgt. York State Park.

“As an educator, I feel it is important for students to know where they have come from and about the people who have risked their lives for our great freedoms. The Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation’s goal is to inform people about Stg. Alvin C. York’s great accomplishments and to use the school he built to help educate our students with vocational skills essential to our economy.”

8. Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Kodak, TN

Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park helps to preserve and protect one of America’s greatest natural treasures by raising funds and awareness, and providing volunteers for need projects.

“The Friends of the Smokies organization is by far one of the greatest organizations related to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The FOTS staff are some of the most passionate and dedicated folks I know, and I have proudly volunteered alongside them with much enthusiasm and pride.”

9. Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society, Gig Harbor, WA

Mission: To create opportunities to experience the Gig Harbor community heritage by collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the area.

“The Harbor History Museum is a jewel. Visitors can expect to be wow-ed by the displays and artifacts which are part of the permanent gallery. The museum honors the contributions and stories of a wide range of early settlers who together shaped Greater Gig Harbor.”

10. Tallahassee Museum of History and Natural Science,            Tallahassee, FL

The museum encourages people to reach their full potential and contribute to a better sense of community, purpose and place by inspiring them to care for their natural world and value the role of history in their lives.

“…I have maintained my membership over all these years to help support the museum – our richest cultural resource. The museum is thriving with educational experiences, wonderful events, great people and acres of beautiful preserved land and native animals. I feel at peace when there – enjoying the outdoors, the exhibits, the farm or the many other offerings…”

How will you celebrate this Independence Day? Consider volunteering at a great nonprofits that serve America! Read about more volunteer opportunities here.

Fireworks and Philanthropy – Volunteer Opportunities for the 4th of July

Comment (1) June 28, 2013

Let July 4th inspire you to do social good this year!  In the spirit of appreciating your independence and challenging yourself to uphold the equality and patriotism of this day, here are some ways to give back to the community and to the country.

The Hugs Project

1. Show our troops some love.

What better way to give back this Independence Day than by honoring the men and women who have fought for our freedom?  Take a moment to appreciate and thank our troops all around the world for their dedicated service to our country.  Send a care package to a soldier stationed in the Middle East through The Hugs Project or donate your gently used mp3 players or monetary contributions to The Silver Star Families of America, which funds and assists injured, ill, and dying troops.

Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children

2. Spend some time with your family…and help out another family in need.

National holidays are times when the whole family can relax and enjoy time together.  Take some time to appreciate your family members, and to understand that there are countless other families that are struggling to find stability in their lives.  Lend a helping hand to these families today, whether by inviting your neighbors to a backyard barbecue or making a donation to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children, which helps military and veteran families find positive change in times of crisis.

Project on Government Oversight

3. Celebrate your independence.

We celebrate Independence Day to commemorate the freedoms, rights, and opportunities established by our Founding Fathers that we still enjoy to this day.  This year, resolve to stay informed about the decisions our government is making for us and stand up for your liberties.  Look into organizations like the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan, independent nonprofit that champions government reform.


Civil War Trust

4. Educate yourself about the past to succeed in and inspire the future.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Mull over George Santayana’s words of wisdom while deciding how best to make a lasting impact this 4th of July.  Preserve a vital part of America’s history with the Civil War Trust, an organization dedicated to preserving Civil War battlegrounds and educating the public about the important role these lands played in shaping our country.  Support efforts to educate our next generation of leaders in a socially responsible way, such as Operation Understanding DC’s mission to build a community of young leaders who work to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism, and discrimination.

5. Volunteer to help with your local celebration.

Love the fireworks, parades, or picnics your town organizes every year for July 4th?  This year start giving back at the local level and volunteer to help decorate, plan, or otherwise make your annual celebration a blast. Search your zip code on to find charities and nonprofits close to home that may be hosting special Independence Day events or browse to find out what you can do to volunteer for your local festivities.

GreatNonprofits is the place to find trustworthy nonprofits. »

Subscribe to our blog:


Recent Posts

Recent Comments


Have you volunteered in 2013?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...